What happened to basketball star Villanova Shelly Pennefather? "So I made a deal with God."



WHEN PENNEFATHER returned from Japan in 1991, he wanted to tell his closest friends about his decision directly. He went to New Jersey to tell Lisa Gedaka and to Pennsylvania to tell Lynn Tighe.


Tighe had a deli at the time, and he and Pennefather peeled potatoes when a former teammate left the news. Pennefather never stopped peeling.

"Lynn, I would never choose this for myself," Pennefather told him. "I will never leave my family and my friends. But this is what I must do. I know that. God called me. And I will do it."

But Tighe, Karen Daly and Kathy Miller, who are all part of the same Villanova class who met each other as freshmen in 1983, wanted more answers. They insisted on going to the monastery and talking to the superior mother. They wanted to know everything they could about the life of a closed nun.

They want to make sure their teammates are okay.

Pennefather gave several questions to his friends to ask as well, a correct sign that he did not know what he was doing.

Miller said that they made a deal with the mother's boss that day: That in 2019, the three of them would be able to embrace Pennefather during his silver jubilee. Just like family.

SEASONS ARE FOR everyone except Sister Rose Marie. Tighe became an associate director at Villanova; Lisa Gedaka is married, has children and is a high school basketball coach. His eldest daughter also played basketball, and now Mary Gedaka is an attacker at Villanova, playing under the older and somewhat gentle Harry Perretta.

Perretta also brokered a back door deal with Poor Clares. She will bring the supplies that are needed by sisters every summer in return for her annual visit with Sister Rose Marie.

So every June, he drove for three hours to I-95 to the monastery, delivering supplies such as ginger beer and Reese's peanut butter cups. Sometimes, he would bring one or two of his old teammates for (winking, winking) help. They can see it through the screen and hold their hands.

One time, Perretta visited Sister Rose Marie when her telephone rang.

"What is that?" he asked.

He had never seen a cellphone.

If Perretta or Sister Rose Marie's teammates struggle, they can contact the monastery and ask the boss's mother to submit a prayer request. They pray for humanity and things they cannot see.

They prayed for the victims of 9/11 even though they had never seen a picture of a fallen tower or know the names of the deceased.

"At first I didn't understand," Perretta said. "But if you believe in the power of prayer, then they do more for humanity than anyone else."





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1 Response to "What happened to basketball star Villanova Shelly Pennefather? "So I made a deal with God.""

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